Updated on June 17, 2016
Flying tips from the Puffins
Yesterday, we left from LAX and landed in Paris 10 hours later. We have done this many times, but as the children developmentally change, each flight has taken on a different energy. This trip Chloé is 4 and a half, very independent while Luca is not two yet (June 23) and since he was turning two within the time we would be returning, we were required to buy him a seat. Here is a little recap of our experience and a few tips from the puffins.
In years past, we have flown from San Diego to Chicago, stayed a few days visiting family, and then took a round trip flight from O’hare to Paris. It would saved us about 3 hours but we end up being away from home for to long. This year we decided to fly directly from LAX to Paris.
Whenever we book a flight we are conscience of choosing a time that will work with Chloé and Luca’s sleep schedule. Considering France is 9 hours ahead of California, we are mindful of choosing a time which will increase the probability they might sleep most of the flight. I should preface that our two cute lovely children do not fall asleep easily, anywhere.
But each year we continue to hope that due to our conscience timed flight choice, the flight will go well. A “well” flight, for me, would be one in which I slept for 3-4 hours, possible even was able to watch a movie, Luca stayed in his seat most the time, and crying or tantrums were held to less than 3 minutes and fewer than 5 (I am a realist).
So this year, we book a 3:30 direct flight from LAX which landed in Paris at 1:30 in the afternoon. This gave us enough time to get to the airport, allow the kids to run around and not feel too rushed. What we did not anticipate was that the flight time would be changed twice from 3:30 to 5:30 and then to 5:55. Not a huge deal, still no need to feel rushed, but when you are a “planner”, it can throw you off a little.
Tip: Times can change. Do your best to choose a time that will work for your kids but be open to being flexible and rolling with it.
I won’t take up your time with too many details, here is the short version of our experience. Arrived at the LAX airport in time for the kids to run around and get some energy out. Only one 3 minute melt down (Chloe) during that time. LAX has a children’s play ground inside the international terminal (we did not actually play there because I did not see it till we were boarding). Boarded smoothly. Kids were enthralled with the tv and remote control for about 2 hours. Had dinner and then expected them to sleep. This did not go as hoped. Chloé was restless and Luca seemed overtired (since he did not take a nap). Finally six hours in, Sebastien passed out on the ground (disgusting), Chloé fell asleep taking up 2 1/2 seats while Luca passes out overlapping Chloé’s feet. This caused Luca to either wake up due to getting a foot in his face or almost falling off the seat because he rolled over. I took 0 hours of sleep and watched no movies. I was so worried that Luca was going to fall off of the chair that I had to stay awake watching them. Luca had a few whining moments but no tantrums. The worst part of the flight happened in the last 20 minutes. During the descent, the turbulence was really bad and Luca puked all over me as soon as we landed. GROSS!
Looking back there is one big thing I would have changed, the carry on items. Every year I pack way too much. Again, I am a super planner and I am constantly thinking about “what might keep them occupied.” But they play with less than half of what I end up lugging around. After a long flight, which causes everyone to be tired, be mindful that you will likely be the one carrying their stuff around. Yes, we brought a stroller which carried a child and a carry on to the gate but it is not waiting for you when you get off the flight. So not only do you have sleeply/crabby children that need to be carried, but you also have to carry their stuff.
Tip: Limit the carry on to one backpack. Pack light activities. I could tell you what we brought but it is specific to my kids interests and what keeps them occupied might not keep yours occupied. I forget, till I am on the plane, how awful waiting through customs can be with two crabby over tired kids. Imagine being over tired, one kid is hanging on you while the other is running way through the lines all while you are carrying three backpacks, pushing one suitcase and smelling like puke (the worst). Honestly, the customs line was not to long in Paris which really still was 30 minutes.
Saving grace, a baby carrier. I stuck Luca in there which freed up my hands and kept him in one spot. I have even carried Chloé in it even though she is pretty heavy now a days.
I hope this was helpful to someone and feel free to ask me more questions. Or post your own thoughts/advise.